By Victor Tan
A crowd of roughly 100 spectators came on an unusually warm, fine July day to witness the first formal South Australian match between the Adelaide Augureys and the Flinders University Fantastic Beasts. The hype for this match had been growing for some time now and was well-attended not only by friends and families of the quidditch community, but by the general public as well thanks to media coverage from the radio and newspapers. Although no doubt overshadowed by the IQA Quidditch World Cup preparations and coverage, the game merited the turnout, coverage, and excitement that had been anticipated for several months.
From the opening brooms up, the Adelaide Augureys dominated play. Joshua Thunig scored the first two goals of the game before Flinders University even had a meaningful possession in the attacking half. Further goals to Thunig, Brittany Smart, Adam Higgs, Bradley Kerr, Stella Naylor, and Simon Lee cemented the Augureys’ lead before Flinders registered their first score, putting the game beyond doubt. The scoreline could and would have been far greater were it not for two brilliant shutout plays by Adam Taylor and some misfortune on the part of Flinders chasers.
The Augureys equally dominated the beater game, with Mackenzie James and Jason Bilyk consistently breaking up any attack Flinders mounted and cutting holes in the defense to be exploited time and time again. The inexperience of the Flinders team was exposed in the harshest and most ruthless manner by the Augureys’ beaters, who showed no mercy. The Augureys maintained bludger control for almost the entire match, with little meaningful resistance coming from the Flinders University beaters at any time. Furthermore, the communication between the Flinders’ beaters with each other and the rest of the team was virtually non-existent. There were long stretches where neither Flinders’ beater was armed, nor making an attempt to claim immunity while retrieving the third bludger.
Flinders University’s game plan was never going to be reliant on passing. With chasers like Emily Riazzi, Brad Johnson, Joel Stanley, and Krishna Moorthy, Flinders instead relied on negating the defensive beaters and scoring through blunt-force drives and shepherd attacks. Unfortunately for Flinders, the conditions for that attack rarely occurred, and their offence consistently fell apart at the attacking third. When their attacks did succeed, it was due largely to fast breaks and counterattacks that saw the Augurey beaters caught out of position. Conversely, the Augureys’ passing strategy paid handsome dividends, consistently challenging the Flinders defense and negating the more physically imposing Flinders team. The defenders were consistently caught out of place, and chasers Thunig, Smart, and RJ Brouggy punished the Beasts for it time and time again.
Dania Ruminski-Smith’s defensive seeking was the highlight of the Flinders University team’s performance. Against the Augureys’ seeking team, Ruminski-Smith held her own for 10 minutes against fresh legs and the aggressive seeking of multiple Augureys, allowing the Flinders University team to add a few goals to the scoreboard. However, it was too much for the one-woman brick wall to maintain, and it was only a matter of time before Thunig came to the seeker party and showed his value as a dual position player, catching the snitch to end the game.
Overall, the final score was 230*-70, a fair reflection of the state of the game. The Augureys’ dominance was indicative, but it also reflects the sharpness of the Flinders’ attack when allowed to run at an exposed Augureys defense. The next match is not set to take place until after the August Fantasy Tournament in South Australia, but both teams can take away plenty of experience from this match and see closer results in the future.